Sinclair Armstrong, Pep Guardiola, Neil LennonQPR, Getty

Manchester City, Celtic and Crystal Palace battle over QPR's Irish wonderkid Armstrong

Manchester City, Celtic and Crystal Palace are all moving to sign Sinclair Armstrong from Championship side Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer to bolster their academy ranks.

Armstrong is regarded as one of the top talents to come out of the Republic of Ireland, making his professional debut for Shamrock Rovers when he was still just 15 in 2018. He made six Irish first division appearances and also played in the domestic cup.

The Republic of Ireland Under-17 international only joined QPR in October but he only signed a deal until June 2021, which makes him eligible to sign a pre-contract with another club.

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The deal to join the second-tier side was seen as a coup, with Bundesliga club Hoffenheim said to have brought him in on trial just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

With optimism that he would quickly sign a longer deal, there are now fears that he could leave Loftus Road having scored several goals in their Under-18 team already this season.

Now 17, the Dubliner is a striker who can also play on the left-wing.

Man City have recently won the FA Youth Cup and are regarded as one of the top academies in England. However, the pathway might be easier at either Celtic or Crystal Palace with both clubs having some success in bringing through talented prospects in the past.

Celtic have the advantage to be able to start talks earlier as they are regarded as a club in an overseas league and, like their rivals Rangers, they have used their status to attract a host of talents from English academies to join their club.

The Scottish Premier League has proven a good competition for young talents to move on and achieve bigger things with Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Moussa Dembele having excelled in their early careers north of the border before moving onto bigger things.

Crystal Palace meanwhile have given a pathway to several academy products, most notably Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who went on to join Manchester United.

Mark Warburton's QPR are currently 20th in the Championship and are unlikely to debut the youngster while battling against relegation.